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how to get a dog to take a pill

How to Get a Dog to Take a Pill [Top Simple Methods]

It’s never fun when your dog is sick. It can leave your dog feeling down, meaning more cuddles and comforting than usual. Sometimes it can also mean medication. But some pet owners may wonder how to get a dog to take a pill without any stress.

A lot of pills have a weird texture or bad taste, causing dogs to avoid them. Luckily there are a lot of ways to properly give your dog pills easily and safely. Here are the best ways to give your dog pills to keep them happy and healthy without effort.


Why Won’t My Dog Take Pills?

While dogs don’t often seem too picky about the food they eat, some things make dogs wrinkle their noses and turn away. For many dogs, pills are one of these unpleasant things.

Just like us, dogs can find a pill to have an unpleasant texture or a gross aftertaste. Some dogs may also find swallowing or chewing a pill uncomfortable. No matter the reason, it’s important to get your dog to take pills. But you should make sure the way you choose to administer the pill is safe for your dog.


What Can Happen if You Force Your Dog to Take Pills?

Forcing your dog to take a pill is not ideal. It can lead to many unwanted physical and mental side effects for your dog. A dog that’s consistently forced to take pills will often become stressed or anxious. They may even become scared of you, jerking away from your hand when you go to pet their head in fear that you are trying to give them another pill.

Remember, dogs don’t understand why you are giving them pills, so it can be very scary when they are forced to experience this uncomfortable situation repeatedly. Dogs who are forced to take medication may also become aggressive or defensive. You may even get bitten by your dog, which can be very painful. This makes this not only stressful for your dog but you as well.

dog and table of pills


Can You Crush Pills for Dogs?

Crushing a pill and sprinkling it on your dog’s food seems like an easy solution that won’t stress out your dog or lead to you getting bitten. You can even use a pill crusher to help you get the job done. But is crushing pills the best option? That depends on the medication itself.

Some tablets cannot be crushed since the inside may be liquid. Others have an enteric coating or are capsules meant to be absorbed further down the GI tract. This means that crushing it may reduce the intended effects.

Simply crushing a pill will also not ensure that your dog will eat it. A crushed-up pill will still have the same taste, which will deter some dogs from accepting it in any form. Luckily there are ways to get your dog to safety and effectively take a pill.


How to Get a Dog to Take Pill

It can seem like a daunting task trying to get your dog to take a pill. Do you have to force them into your dog’s mouth? Trick them? Luckily, there are many easy, painless, and stress-free ways to give your dog the medication they need.


Ensure Your Dog is Calm & Relaxed

When dogs are stressed or anxious, they can sometimes lose their appetite. They may simply not be hungry. But stress can also lead to stomach upsets, making them queasy. If you want your dog to safely eat medication that’s hidden in food or treats, you should make sure they are calm and comforted beforehand.

A great way to keep your dogs calm and relaxed is with CBD. CBD is a healthy, natural compound found in the hemp plant that interacts with the receptors in your dog’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS helps regulate your dog’s overall well-being and balance (this is known as homeostasis). When the CBD interacts with these receptors, it will relax and comfort your dog, leaving them feeling confident and stress-free.

CBD is also known to regulate appetites, allowing your dog to eat their scheduled meals without interruption. This is because CBD reduces the symptoms of an upset stomach and other illnesses, keeping your dog’s daily routine intact.

Healthy Petables has natural, organic CBD products to help your dog feel healthy and calm, including CBD oil and calming chews. Calming chews are soft and easy to digest, as well as delicious and beneficial. This makes them the perfect way to keep your dog happy and calm before administering your dog’s medication.

Gently Give it to Them Gently by Hand

Once your dog is calm, you can try gently giving your dog medication by hand. This means putting the pills directly in your dog’s mouth. Feeding your dog in this way can be a little bit daunting at first if you’ve never done it, but we have the steps pet owners need to give dogs medication without stress or snapping:

  1. Bring your dog to a comfortable and safe area.
  2. Use butter or margarine to lubricate the pill so it doesn’t stick in your dog’s mouth and makes it easier to swallow.
  3. Hold the pill between the thumb and index finger of your dominant hand.
  4. Use your other hand to grasp your dog’s muzzle from above. Place your thumb behind your dog’s teeth on one side of the upper jaw and your fingers on the other.
  5. Tilt your dog’s head toward the ceiling. This may make your dog naturally open its bottom jaw.
  6. Use your dominant hand’s little finger and ring finger to open your dog’s mouth even further. You can do this by gently putting pressure on their lower lip and front teeth.
  7. Place the pill over their tongue as far back as possible. Just make sure your fingers aren’t too far back in your dog’s mouth since you don’t want to stimulate their gag reflex.
  8. Close your dog’s mouth and then hold it closed, moving its head back to its normal position.
  9. You can stimulate swallowing by rubbing your dog’s throat. You can even try blowing lightly on your dog’s nose.
  10. You’ll know your dog has swallowed the pill when they lick their nose.
  11. Give your dog plenty of praise after, even giving them some treats.

Mix Them Into The Feeding Schedule

If you can’t find a way to open your dog’s mouth without a struggle, you can try this tried and true method: Mixing the pill into your dog’s food.

If your dog usually eats kibble, your pooch will probably avoid a pill since it can spot it in the bowl. Adding canned dog food to your pup’s kibble (or switching over entirely) may make it easier to hide the pill and mask its taste and smell.

While it’s easier to hide pills in wet food, you may have a reason you don’t want to switch off the kibble. For example, the average slow-feeder won’t work very well with wet food. If this is the case, let’s take a look at another method for getting your dog to take its pills.

Hide Them in Capsules or Pill Pockets

Some pills have a bitter taste that dogs can’t stand. Dealing with one of those sour medications? Hiding pills and their taste is luckily quite easy when you use capsules or pill pockets.

Capsules can hide the texture and taste of a pill. These hollow pills can be filled with any medication, easily disguising any unwanted flavors or textures. This includes liquid-form medication. Simply squeeze the medicine into the capsule, then put it into your dog’s food.

Pill pockets are another great way to disguise medication. Pill pockets are especially great at hiding a dog’s medication if your dog swallows treats without chewing. Just keep in mind that some dogs may be sensitive to the ingredients in pill pockets, so always check beforehand!

Pill pockets are designed to mask the smell and flavor of bitter pills. You place a pill inside and then pinch the pocket closed, completely hiding the pill from your dog. Some can even fit multiple pills, making them even more convenient.

pill in dog food


Enhance The Taste

Another easy way to make your dog excited to eat pills is to combine them with something a bit tastier! Below are some things to give your dog with a pill to make the experience as easy as possible.

Peanut Butter

Dogs love the taste of peanut butter. In small amounts, peanut butter can be a healthy, beneficial treat. Ball up the peanut butter and then squish the pill inside. You may even want to try crunchy peanut butter since it will mask the pill’s texture even more.

Cream Cheese

Cheese is another popular option that most dogs can’t resist. Cream cheese is an easy one because it can easily coat the pill, similar to peanut butter. Make a ball of cream cheese, then squish the pill inside.

Plain Yogurt

Yogurt is another dairy alternative that most dogs enjoy. Look for a thick plain yogurt without any added ingredients to keep the yogurt healthy and beneficial.


Cut a marshmallow in half and then place the pill inside. Put the two halves back together. Marshmallows are a sweet treat that dogs can’t resist. Just make sure that you don’t give your dog too many marshmallows since they do have sugar.


From a liver plate to chicken hearts or sardines, meat is a great way to disguise pills, whether they are a solid or liquid form of medication. This makes it a special treat that dogs can easily digest and won’t be able to resist. You’ll just need to make sure to watch your dog eat the food to ensure they don’t avoid the pill hidden inside. Click here for a guide on how to make a hot dog pill pocket.


Tips to Remember When Giving a Dog a Pill

No matter the method you choose when giving your dog a pill, there are some things to keep in mind to simplify the process. Remember that it will take time and patience, and you may have to try multiple times. The most important thing is to remain consistent and calm.

One of the most important things is to keep your dog relaxed. Bring them to an area of the house where they are comfortable and feel safe. This may be their doggy bed or in the living room. Any space where your pooch spends a lot of time hanging out and playing will be an area in which they feel comfortable.

Give them plenty of praise and pets. You can even try giving your dog a light massage, starting with rubbing their ears and then gently petting in a pattern down their back and legs. This will make the experience all the more comfortable for your dog and relieve any tension.

Research shows that CBD can help your dog feel even more relaxed, which can add to their comforted and restful feelings. Give your dog a CBD calming chew or treat 30 minutes before you give them the pill, ensuring they feel the effects before offering the medication.

Also, make sure your dog is on an empty stomach when you give it the pill. This will ensure that your dog takes bigger bites of food, not noticing the pill hidden between the kibble. It can also make them more excited to eat treats, meaning they may not chew them as long, resulting in them spitting them out.


Final Thoughts – How to Get a Dog to Take a Pill

Dogs don’t often seem too picky. So why won’t they just eat the dang pill? It’s often due to the pill’s texture or aftertaste. Still, there are ways to convince your dog to take a pill, including disguising them with treats, food, and capsules.

It’s also important to keep your dog feeling happy and calm. This can ensure that your dog has an appetite and won’t feel stressed during the process. This can be done with CBD calming chews and a lot of encouragement. Dogs will take the pill with patience and consistency without even knowing it, ensuring they stay healthy!